Telanien Smiff walked around her classroom slowly, looking at all of the newest Blue students. She liked Blue the best, something all of her fellow teachers assumed and nobody would ever ask her about.
This year, Blue had the Last Person Up The Stairs, an honor that they were very quiet about – except in the upperclassmen dorms, where she was certain the Blues were crowing about it. And the student in question was not, to Telanien’s eyes, all that impressive – just another teenage child from one of the poor streets, well-fit into a uniform, presumably by a collar that cared about impressions, that was good, but still out of place here. If this Desmond knew how many of his fellow students were High Street, he’d probably be even more uncomfortable around them. Or around the teachers.
Your focus is lacking, Telanien’s collar scolded. It liked to scold, but Telanien never took any offense. After all, they were a team, and sometimes a little push was helpful.
Speaking of pushes, Desmond was holding up his shield and very carefully not pushing. Was he worried about hurting Talia? The student in question did not look too young or too delicate, but you never knew.
“Desmond. Why aren’t you pushing?”
“Because I pushed already. Now it’s her turn to figure out how to push.”
Telanien poked at the reasoning a little, to see if it had holes, to see if Desmond was really interested in being ‘fair’ or just fond of Talia. She left them, content that that pair, at least, had understood that teamwork was a vital part of being a Collared Person.
There were always going to be new students, there were always going to be new collars – even a collar eventually reached the end of its life, after all, and certain threats the Collared People got into could actually do more harm to the collar than to the wearer, were they not irrevocably linked – but Telanien watched them all, every year, for the sparks that would make truly notable collared people – or truly dangerous magi.
Sometimes, she feared, they were one and the same.